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>> welcome to our program. tonight david brooks, "the new york times" columnist return returns for another conversation about his take on politics and culture. >> one of the issues of these days is how much leadership matters, and how much society matters. you know, tolstoy in war and peace had a scene where they are fighting the battle and the generals are are up there on the hill and the men go down into a valley to fight and they go into a fog and the generals can't see. and the battle is just chaos. and the joke is on the generals, they think they're running society but they're not. i sometimes feel one of those moments where the president is trying to do stuff but basically the social organism is more important than the president. and the social organism is changing now. changing as we mentioned away from materialism, but maybe also in ways that are deeply disturbing of people
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in well educated people are not going into industry, they are going into finance and law and the media, things maybe that aren't as productive for the country. and so there is all sorts of changes in the social organism that for that makes the country have doubts about whether we are in decline. and i'm not sure it's all politics. >> rose: funding for charlie rose was provided by the following:
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captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. >> rose: david brooks is here, he is a columnist for "the new york times". he writes about american politics, culture, ideas, science. above all he are reflects on the challenges and trends that confront america and the world. "new york" magazine recently said that brooks is better than anyone at crystallizing the questions we face, ones for which there are often no good answer as. he's also work on a book about the unconscious and the brain. i am pleased to have him back at this table. welcome. >> good to see you. >> rose: tell me where you have gone since the last time we talked, because as you said to me, it
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precipitated a larger response than any television appearance or for the most part, and half of it was about what we said in the last ten minutes of the interview. >> right. >> rose: which was about the brain. >> well, we are in the middle of a revolution of consciousness which you have been covering, which newspapers have been covering efing ree day. there a new story about something, this and that in brain research. and so i'm trying to figure out what it is all about. it is clearly an important pivot point in life. i guess to me the essence of it is we have inherited this story from the french revolution which is that our conscious minds are most of our minds. the conscious mind writes the autobiography of our species. >> rose: right. >> so we are used to the story and we tell the story about the way we live. we train kid dpos to go to college. we train them in reasoning skills am we give them technical skills we have a series of strategies that people learn when they go into management. how to network, how to make decisions. and that is the story of human life told from the conscious level. but the revolution of consciousness tells us that below that level there's a more important and more fundamental level and more
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powerful and in some ways smarter level. and so my book is a description of life and the lives of two people told from that, of that underlevel. >> rose: the lives of two people. >> yeah, i make up characters. i have fictional characters just so exempt few. >> rose: but tell us about what you have found out about the unconscious mind. >> a couple things are important. the first is that we're shaped in so many ways by these unconscious decisions. in trivial ways, i mention by a study by a guy in buffalo that people named dennis are disproportionately likely to become dentists, people named lawrence are disproportionately likely to become lawyers, i named my son president of the united states brooks, and that's because we have a bias toward the familiar. but in more profound ways in our moral instincts. if i see someone doing something heroic i have an immediate surge of admirationment i don't think about that. it comes upon me. so how does that come from. so that's-- that power is just something to be appreciated. like a new world, seeing
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society from a new world. but there are other misconceptions. some people make a distinct between passion and reason. that is a false distinction. there is no such thing as reason without passion. our passions decide what is important. one of the most important scientists in the spheres is a guy named antonio dimazio. >> rose: been on this show. >> part of your series. >> rose: he's coming back for other series we're doing. >> and he found people that couldn't register emotion because of brain injuries, they couldn't make decisions, they couldn't make rational decisions, mr. spoke without emotion can't tell you what is valuable ands what a not valuable. and so you have to listen to those emotional intelligence. and one of the things culture does, one of the things institutions do is educate the emotions. our emotions are in our control. we have the ability to educate and improve them, depending on how we surround ourselves. nonconsciously but indirectly. i spent some of yesterday with a fabulous kids who were active in the boys & girls club. and they were kids from broken homes, parents on
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crack, really terrible circumstances. but one of the things that they really had the instinct to understand, even at age 14, was that i can't turn my life around by myself. but if i get myself out of this environment, i will be surrounded by other influences. and they, even at 14, one of the kids left one city where his mom was and went to another city, at age 14. because he had the instinctive and correct attitude that got to surround my self-with different influences that is the power of institutions, to permeate who we where and change the way we think. and then the final think i'd mention is that we have a sense that passion is stupid and reason is smart. and that when we do-- act correctly, our reason is overwhelming our passion. and when we are stupid we are listening to our owe mention-- emotions, that is false too. sometimes emotions are just phenomenalically intelligent. one of the most cognitively difficult thing to do is buying furniture. i go into the store and i
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can't figure out what size it is in the room compared to my room back home. and so a scientist in holland figured out what is the best way to buy furniture. and the best thing you should do is take a look at the furniture. then distract yourself with something else. and then come back to the problem and make a rash decision, a quick decision. and because while you've been distracted, your unconscious has been filtering all and you will come with the right decision. so the shorthand decision is if you've got a decision with two options, then you should do the rational thing, write a list of pros and cons. if you have a decision where there are five options, ten options, 20 options, a really complicated decision, let your mind cogitate overnight and then go with your gut. >> rose: is any of this related to what malcolm glandwell wrote that book about in terms of about your first impulse is often the right impulse. >> malcolm is on some of the same ground i am though i think the thing he gets wrong in that book, and i say this with respect. a lot of people dump over
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malcolm but i have tremendous respect for him, is it's not first instinct. the idea that you can immediately look at something and immediately form the right decision, your unconscious needs to be educated. your unconscious needs to take time. when you get involved in a field, you can't just go into economics or philosophy or politics and understand it. but you do have to immerse-- immerse yourself in something. and if you immerse yourself in it then while you're studying it in random and amateur ways your mind will be able to make connections. and once you have that dense network in your mind, you will be able to come up with insights am but that does not happen quickly. it happens after long labor and attention. >> but what's amaze being it for all of us who have been involved and eric kandel has been extraordinary about this, is the complexity of it all. >> one of the things that is important to understand is that there's a complex universe down there. and that a lot is going on. when we look at color, the waves actually coming off this table, to us it just looks brown or tan or
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whatever. but the waves are change all the time depending on the light in our eyes and our mind is baifl determining ratio,. and it's doing advanced calculations to give us the impression that this is a constant color but it's not. and so the real world implication of that is the incredible power of perception. and this is relevant to what we all do when we try to understand the world. we have a sense that when we are weigh making the decision, we look at the decision. then we qal chrat what's right and wrong and then third we exercise our willpower to do what we actually set out to do. and steps to calculation and step three, willpower are the important steps. those are the complicated ones with that is wrong. step one, perception is the most important thing. you should spend more time perceiving than deciding. because as you are perceiving there is this active process going on. and most of the action is there. and so when i'm in the field of journalism, that means i have to pay special
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attention to how i perceive or any of us if we are in relationships or anything, the ago of perception is an act of action. seeing is an active process and a deciding process where motive, and analyzing goals, when i read you a story about a political argument, i can detect your he visceral reaction to that argument in about 250 milli seconds. you are perceiving and you are reacting instantaneously and everything else there is just commentary. and so that shows the tremendous power of perception and when you add all this up what we have been talking about t really does for me it's been, you know, i tell this story in the book which is i think an a proct ro fill one but i think it is a brain. they took a lot of guys and put them in a-- mchb and they ask them to look at a horror movie and describe their feelings towards their wives. and their brains in those activities are exactly the same. sheer terror in both cases. because i'm a middle-aged american guy, we just don't do this kind of stuff very
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well. but for me it's been a revelation in thinking about emotion. and in thinking about the social conversations happening between us. >> will what you are learning effect the way you act as a parent? >> you can ask them but i think i've become a little more emotionally attuned to them. and certainly appreciative of that understanding why what they do is so important to me. i think if you look at the research, so much of how our unconscious is formed is formed in those first few years. and the most important thing, you don't have to be a great parent. you just have to be good enough. there's a threshold. once are you good enough then your kids are going to be fine. showing them the mozart cds and cue cards, that's to the going to work. just be good enough. and the way you are good enough is attunement. when they register reaction, do you register it back to them do you hear them. >> rose: that you felt their reaction. >> so they understand that relationships, and human
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relationships are a conversation. and that if they exercise, if they say something or gesture something they will be heard. and if they have that model in their heads then when they go to school, they will think okay, teacher and i are in a conversation. coach and i are in a conversation. people who have that skill do much better in teenage years and do much better in life. people who lack that skill are called avoidally attached not so well. >> rose: and you like people who you think listen to you. >> if you want to be great at being a host, mimic. physically mimic whatever your guest does, do it and they'll love you. >> rose: if you are at a dinner party and you want the person next door to like you, talk about them rather

Charlie Rose
PBS September 17, 2010 11:00am-11:12am PST

News/Business. (2010) David Brooks, The New York Times. (CC) (Stereo)

program was likely cut short due to a recording issue

TOPIC FREQUENCY Us 4, David Brooks 2, New York 2, Malcolm 2, Brooks 1, Dennis 1, United States Brooks 1, Underlevel 1, Tolstoy 1, Charlie 1, Malcolm Glandwell 1, New York City 1, Buffalo 1, America 1, Brown 1, Eric Kandel 1, Lawrence 1
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Duration 00:12:42
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Audio Cocec ac3
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on 9/17/2010